×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

MPAA Urges Appeals Court to Protect Filmmakers’ Right to Embellish

The MPAA has waded into the dispute between screen legend Olivia de Havilland and FX Networks, arguing in an amicus brief filed Thursday that filmmakers must have the right to embellish true events.

De Havilland, 101, sued FX in June, objecting to her portrayal in the Ryan Murphy series “Feud.” De Havilland’s attorneys argued that the series portrayed her as a “petty gossip” and took strong exception to a scene in which De Havilland calls her sister, the actress Joan Fontaine, a “bitch.”

FX countered that its depiction is protected under the First Amendment and filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Judge Holly Kendig denied that motion, prompting FX to take its case to the state Court of Appeals.

The MPAA on Thursday joined with Netflix in urging the appellate court to overturn Kendig’s decision and throw out the suit. In the brief, the MPAA’s lawyers argued that they “cannot overstate the serious implications of the trial court’s ruling” for filmmakers who draw on real events for fictionalized works.

“Authors, writers, and directors cannot tell these types of stories if they are required to present every moment with 100 percent literal accuracy, without having any character utter a word that was not actually said, and without every event in the story taking as much time on screen as it did in real life,” they argue. “It would mark a radical departure from decades of case law if the mere use of standard storytelling techniques — indeed the basic tools of the creators’ artistry — were sufficient to support viable false light claims.”

In her suit, De Havilland notes that the “Feud” creators did not seek her out or obtain her consent. But the MPAA argues that requiring the consent of subjects of docudramas would give every public figure absolute veto power over how they were portrayed on screen.

“Motion pictures that criticize, analyze, or reimagine our heroes and leaders will be off limits, and both artistic freedom and public discourse will suffer accordingly,” they contend.

The brief includes a list of this year’s top awards contenders that are based on real events and that, the MPAA argues, would be threatened if De Havilland’s suit is allowed to proceed, including “The Post,” “I, Tonya,” “Dunkirk,” “The Disaster Artist,” “Darkest Hour,” “All the Money in the World,” and “Molly’s Game.”

“Screenwriters need the freedom to create fictional dialogue, imagined scenes, composite characters, and other dramatic elements without fear of unfounded liability,” the MPAA argues.

MPAA Amicus Brief by gmaddaus on Scribd

More Film

  • The Mule trailer

    Film Review: Clint Eastwood in 'The Mule'

    From Dirty Harry to … dirty grandpa, Clint Eastwood certainly has a type of character that he’s comfortable playing, and “The Mule” finds him squarely in his comfort zone, appearing as a surly old horticulturalist who, at age 90, has become perhaps the most reliable drug runner for the Sinaloa cartel, evading detection for nearly [...]

  • Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, ‘The Realm,’

    ‘The Realm,’ ‘Champions,’ Cruz and Bardem Among Spanish Academy Goya Nominations

    MADRID — Spain’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today the nominees for the 33rdedition of the Goya Awards, to be held at the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones in Sevilla on Feb. 2, 2019. Leading the pack with 13 nominations is Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s ultra-current political thriller “The Realm,” which impressed in San [...]

  • Sony Pictures to release Pedro Almodovar’s

    Sony Pictures to Release Pedro Almodovar’s ‘Pain & Glory' (EXCLUSIVE)

    In a break from his Spanish distributor of past years, Warner Bros., Pedro Almodovar has opted to release his latest film “Pain & Glory” in Spain via Sony Pictures Releasing International on March 22, 2019. “We are delighted and excited that we are releasing “Pain & Glory” in Spain with a whole new team: Sony Pictures in [...]

  • Megan Mullally SAG Awards

    Megan Mullally to Host 2019 SAG Awards

    “Will & Grace” actress Megan Mullally has been selected as the host the 25th edition of the SAG Awards on Jan. 27 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Kristen Bell performed the emcee duties this year as the first-ever host of the ceremonies. Mullally won two Primetime Emmy Awards for supporting actress in a [...]

  • Aaron Sorkin

    Aaron Sorkin's 'Trial of the Chicago 7' Put on Hold (EXCLUSIVE)

    After getting close to pushing the long-in-development project into production, Amblin Entertainment is shutting down pre-production on Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” sources tell Variety. Sources say Sorkin is focusing on his play “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which opens Thursday, while the studio figures out how to move forward on the film. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content